Unraveling the Mystery of Scalp Psoriasis: What Experts Want You to Know

Scalp psoriasis is a common skin disorder that causes raised, reddish, often scaly patches. It can occur as part of general psoriasis or be limited to the scalp. Understanding this condition can significantly improve the quality of life for those affected.

Understanding Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that accelerates the life cycle of skin cells, causing them to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. These excess skin cells form scales and red patches that are often itchy and sometimes painful. Scalp psoriasis can range from mild, with slight fine scaling, to severe, with thick, crusted plaques covering the entire scalp. The condition can also extend beyond the scalp, affecting the forehead, the back of the neck, or the skin around the ears.

What Does Psoriasis Look Like?

Psoriasis patches (plaques) are distinct and noticeable because they are thicker and more inflamed than eczema. They are often covered with a silvery, scaly layer. On the scalp, these plaques can extend beyond the hairline.

Signs and Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis symptoms can range from mild scaling to thick, crusted plaques covering the entire scalp. Here’s a table detailing ten common signs and symptoms:

Signs and Symptoms Description
Red patches Noticeable, inflamed red patches on the scalp
Silver-white scales Scaly texture that may flake off
Dry scalp Extreme dryness causing irritation and itching
Itching Intense itching that can lead to discomfort
Dandruff-like flaking Excessive dandruff and flaking
Burning sensation A feeling of burn or soreness on the scalp
Hair loss Temporary hair thinning from scratching and stress on hair follicles
Bleeding Cracks in the skin can lead to bleeding
Scalp tenderness Sensitive to touch due to inflammation
Scaly, bumpy feeling Raised areas feeling rough to the touch

Risk Factors and Causes of Scalp Psoriasis

The exact cause of scalp psoriasis isn’t fully understood, but several factors are known to contribute to its development:

Risk Factor/Cause Description
Genetic predisposition A family history of psoriasis increases risk
Immune system dysfunction Immune-mediated condition with T cells playing a key role
Stress High stress levels can trigger or exacerbate the condition
Hormonal changes Changes, particularly during puberty and menopause, can impact condition severity
Weather conditions Cold, dry weather can worsen symptoms
Injury to the skin Cuts, scrapes, or severe sunburns can trigger psoriasis (Koebner phenomenon)
Smoking Tobacco use can increase the severity and risk of psoriasis
Alcohol consumption Heavy drinking may trigger or exacerbate psoriasis
Medications Certain medications like beta-blockers and lithium
Infections Throat infections can trigger the condition

Lifestyle Tips for Managing Scalp Psoriasis

Managing scalp psoriasis effectively includes several lifestyle adjustments:

  1. Moisturize regularly: Keep your scalp moisturized using oils like coconut or olive oil before washing.
  2. Use medicated shampoos: Shampoos containing tar or salicylic acid can help reduce scaling.
  3. Avoid scratching: This can exacerbate the condition and lead to infection.
  4. Reduce stress: Engage in stress-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation.
  5. Avoid alcohol and smoking: Both can trigger flare-ups.
  6. Expose your scalp to sunlight: Controlled exposure to natural sunlight can improve symptoms.
  7. Eat a balanced diet: Focus on anti-inflammatory foods that can help manage symptoms.
  8. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
  9. Wear light, breathable headwear: Avoid wool hats or caps that may irritate your scalp.
  10. Consult regularly with a dermatologist: Regular medical advice is crucial to manage the condition effectively.

Current Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis

Treatment for scalp psoriasis varies based on the severity and individual response:

  • Topical treatments: Includes corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, or topical retinoids.
  • Light therapy: UV light therapy is particularly effective for some patients.
  • Systemic medications: For severe cases, medications that affect the whole body may be prescribed.
  • Biologics: Target specific parts of the immune system that are overactive in psoriasis.


Q1: Is scalp psoriasis contagious? A1: No, it is not contagious. It cannot be transferred from person to person.

Q2: Can scalp psoriasis lead to permanent hair loss? A2: Hair loss in scalp psoriasis is typically temporary. Effective treatment can allow hair to grow back.

Q3: How can I differentiate between dandruff and scalp psoriasis? A3: Unlike dandruff, scalp psoriasis patches are well-defined and often have a silvery scale.

Reliable Sources

For more information on scalp psoriasis and its management, consider visiting these reputable sources:

  1. National Psoriasis Foundation: www.psoriasis.org
  2. American Academy of Dermatology: www.aad.org
  3. Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.org

These websites provide valuable, scientifically-backed information about scalp psoriasis, helping patients and caregivers understand and manage this condition effectively.